Colon History

COLON HISTORY

 

From the archives of the Colon Community Historical Society Museum. This comes from the Colon High School Year Book with business listing and various advertisements. Estimated date is 1925 – 1926.

“Colon and the township were originally a part of Sherman Township. Later they were divided off into Nottawa Twp. Finally it was made into Colon Township, which was subsequently divided and made into Colon and Leonidas townships.

The country was level except at Colon along the rivers which were heavily timbered. “Colon Mountain” is the highest point in the locality being 120 feet above general level. It is believed to be the work of the mound builders as well as the several other earthen fortifications and garden plots in elevated ridges.

The original plat of Colon was made in 1832 but not recorded until 1844. the first settler was Roswell Schellhous of Ohio, who came in 1829, built the first log house. It contained two rooms and was used as a hotel for other settlers and travelers. In 1838, R. Schellhous left for Illinois, where he made his home but in the meantime Lorauci, Martin G. and George F. Schellhouse, brothers of the first settler had located here and became leaders in the community. They induced 30 more people from Ohio to locate here. George and Martin bought the present mill site and erected a sawmill, later adding a gristmill. During the year of 1832 almost every person was sick with the “fever” and many succumbed to the disease.

Chas. Palmer came into the township from Ohio and Palmer lake is named after him. Mr. Palmer and the Schellhouses were very active in the community and started or helped organize several of the manufacturing enterprises.

The first crops were corn, potatoes and wheat. In 1873 mint was planted for the first time.

Gilbert N. Liddle built the first brick house and Adam Bower built the first stone house. Martin Schellhous planted the first apple orchard and his brother Roswell started the first nursery. Mr. Leland planted the first peach orchard but the cold winter of 1825 froze out all of the peaches. Wild plums were plentiful in the early days.

Cattle, hogs and sheep were raised very successfully and draft horses and fine racehorses soon became a paying enterprise. Colon having one of the first race tracks in St. Joe County. The first improved farm machinery was used in 1841. Louis A. Leland established a store in the township and ran a “huxter” wagon between Bronson and Centreville selling merchandise and accepting grain and produce in exchange. Cyrus Schellhous and J. D. Freeman started stores. John D. Everhard built a sawmill in 1837 and added a gristmill in 1858. Samuel King built a whisky distillery in 1839-40.

The first white children born were sons to Mr. and Mrs. Roswell Schellhous and Mr. and Mrs. Martin Schellhous. Both children, cousins, died within the year. The first adult death was Grandmother Schellhous. She was buried in the first cemetery laid out in 1832 and enlarged in 1838 and 1876. there was an old cemetery laid out on the ground adjoining the Everhard Mill.. the first marriage was Jonathan Engle and Delia Brooks in 1832.

The first school was started in 1833 and Martin Schellhous was the teacher.

The pioneers believed in education and the school had almost 100 per cent attendance. The Methodist and Baptist churches were formed. Later the Dutch Reformed church. Several lodges were organized about this time.

The first road laid out was from Colon to Coldwater and from Colon to Centreville. First bridge was built in 1840 over St. Joseph River, called the Farrand Bridge. The Leland Bridge was built in 1845. in 1868 an iron bridge was built over the St. Joe river and in 1873 an iron one over the Swan Creek.

First post office was instituted in 1835. Lorausi Schellhous was the first post master. Mail was brought from Kent’s and Adam’s mills. Henry Goodwin, an 8 year old boy, brought the mail from Thompson and Needham Mills and Leonidas. Mail was forwarded from her by horseback to Centreville, Three Rivers, Cassopolis, Niles and Berrian. The population in 1836 was 365, in 1850 it had grown to 846.

The first celebration was in 1840 over the Whig victory off “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.”

Wild ducks, pigeons, and turkeys were very plentiful. A pair of bald eagles made their nest here for 20 years.

The Clipfell family arrived in 1847 and later built a distillery.

L. Schellhous built the first blacksmith shop and lathe factory for the making of spinning wheels, chairs and flax wheels and reels. Dr. Isaac S. Voorhis located here in 1836 and built the present mill in 1839. Chas. L. Miller of Constantine located here and opened a store. David Barrows made wagons and Earnest Mills started a wagon and carriage factory. Shuert and Duel erected a foundry in 1847 to supply the needs of the settlers. David Brownfield built a tannery. Chas. L. Miller built a fruit-drying factory in 1847. Michael Keith was the first shoemaker going from home to home to do his work. R. J. Hazen was a cooper. E. Hill and Sons opened a store, and shipped livestock and grain. Later they opened the Exchange Bank which is still doing business. Dr. Isaac Side opened the first drug store.

Dr. H. Austin was the only dentist for a number of years. Hiram Draper was the first lawyer and after losing his first case to a school teacher, Mr. Schellhous, never tried a case again.

The citizens gave liberally of money to get the Michigan Air Line railroad built through Colon. Large amounts of four, hogs, sheep and cattle were shipped to the Chicago markets.

The Colon Seminary Company was started in 1858 and existed 10 years, with Prof. Orlando Moffatt as the first teacher. Several national known students graduated from this seminary.

Cyrus and Martin Schellhous had a great influence over the Nottawa Indians and were busy constantly keeping peace between the settlers and Indians. Fort Hogan was started with lots of pomp but never finished.

Colon furnished her share of soldiers to the war of rebellion.

Today, Colon is one of St. Joseph County’s live little towns with active merchants and a good newspaper.

 

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COLON BUSINESS DIRECTORY

Adams, E. J., Lakeview Creamery…………………….Phone 212

Adams Bros. I. G. A. Grocery…………………………Phone 127

A & P Store, Roy B. Bell, Mgr……………………………………

Bartholomew, R. J. Clothier………………………………………

Brown’s Dry Goods Store, Mrs. G……………………..Phone 115

Burke, J. O., Live Stock……………………………….Phone 165

Brast, J., Variety Store …………………………………………….

COLON ELEVATOR CO., J. E. Olney, Pres-Mgr.…Phone 211

Colon Service Garage, R. R. Roderick……………….…Phone 220

Colon Flour Mills ……………………………………….Phone  52

DeBACK, James, Grocery……………………………..Phone 229

East Side Garage, Ray Vreeland, Prop……………………………..

FRISBIE REPAIR SHOP, F. J. Frisbie …………………………

Farrand, V. C……………………………………………..Phone  23

Godfrey, Dr. E. L., Office…………………………………Phone    7

Godfrey, Dr. G. E. Dentist ……………………………….Phone  80

Goodell & King, Barber Shop………………………………………

Goodell, A. C., Coal, Implements, and Seeds…………….Phone 120

Gorton, Jay, Barber Shop……………………………………………

Hartman, Dr. P. L., Veterinary………………………….…Phone  14

Hartman, Oscar, Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor……………Phone  16

Hill, S. G., Hardware………………………………………Phone  72

HOBDAY GARAGE, Auto Sales and Repairing ………Phone  72

KEN’S CAFÉ………………………………………………Phone  60

Lamb Knit Goods Co., Mfgrs., C. G. Correll, Mgr…………Phone 42J

LLOYDS BAKERY, L. J. Burkholder…………………..Phone  44

MITCHELL, G. S. Jewler…………………………………………..

Maurer, Chas., Dry Goods………………………………….Phone  49

MID LAKES CAFÉ, Dine and Dance Casino …………..Phone  40

MOSHER, J. E., General Store…………………… …….Phone    5

Munday Cleaners, R. R. Munday…………………………………….

Markham, W. J. Funeral Director………………………….Phone 104-J

NEINDORF, CHAS., Drug Store……………………….. Phone 28-1

OSBORN, OLIVER, Barber Shop…………………………………..

Palmer Hotel, Olive Hall, Prop.,……………………………………….

Ryan, J. G., Cigar Store………………………………………………..

Royer, Donavan, Funeral Director …………………………Phone  29

State Bank, E. Hill & Sons………………………………….Phone  68

SHADY NOOK HATCHERY, J. C. Cossairt………………………

The Modern Shop, Leo Thrams, Prop., Harness and Shoes……………

TOMLINSON, W. B. & SON, Lumber…………………..Phone  67

Ward’s Garage………………………………………………Phone 176

Wiles, S. B. Furniture Store……………………………………………